Mlle. Zabzie, on 24 April 2012 - 03:15 PM, said:
No, wait, hang on, just because your impression of 2,000 years of global human history (vastly generalized) is that sexism is the historical norm does not mean that an historical world, as imagined by an author, needs also have that norm. It is called speculative fiction for a reason. That's not to say that the imagined world CAN'T have a system like that in place, but I find the choices interesting. That is, why include women without agency, rapes and other sexual violence, but NOT include an analogue to the cult of Mary, or women with agency (of which there were many - the monks, who wrote history, generally demonized them, but that [prejudiced] narrative voice certainly does not need to control how the author of the book portrays them)? Maybe there is a valid reason within the story or the world, but just saying "it is so because it's historically accurate" is both false in fact and false in logic.
I don't disagree with any of this.
fionwe1987, on 24 April 2012 - 03:31 PM, said:
Because it is silly to believe that the presence of magic won't drastically alter the meaning of "realistic social forces". If the poor butcher boy from Fela Bottom can become the most powerful wizard in the world, wouldn't the kind of social pressures that shape hierarchy get altered?
Sure. Of course, it depends on the type and accessibility of the magic. But most fantasy authors don't depict magic as leveling the hierarchical playing field. Kings and nobles still rule because of supposed blood superiority. All I'm saying is if you have that as a social norm, then sexism and racism are easier to justify because the existence of inherent inequality is already taken as a given. Now, authors don't have to depict feudal societies. But if they do, then it is realistic to show their harsher implications, UNLESS, as you point out, magic is developed in such a way as to change that.
Errant Bard, on 24 April 2012 - 04:03 PM, said:
I think you misunderstood me. They can but the point is, if they do it's not to be historically accurate, because they don't write history, and if they can include such breaks from reality as dragons or magic, they can just as easily toy with something different than the trite misogynistic faux-middle-ages-europe. If realism was holding them down, they wouldn't put dragons in.
As for "realistic social forces", I raise you Galadriel and the whole Greek pantheon, for the Fantasy nobody has anything to say against, and Livia, Alienor d'Aquitaine, Anne de Bretagne, Joan of Arc, Margaret of Anjou, Mary of Medicis, among others, for history, and ask you to consider reading stuff like Druon's The Accursed Kings (which is historical fiction, but the role of women is probably quite different from what you expect.) What features in most Fantasy is only "realistic" for the same who would think Sir Walter Scott wrote pretty accurate historical fiction.
Seriously, when Tolkien is both the most successful modern Fantasy author, and the one farther from "realistic social forces", I don't see where that "accuracy" thing has a leg to stand on.
But it doesn't mean that you cannot write about misogynistic societies if you want, just that the excuse that "it was like that" is fake: the author is not forced to follow that path, as it's fiction he's writing.
Historical accuracy is a problematic term, that's why I've tried to stick with 'realism' in my posts.
Also, I've never denied that powerful women were plentiful in history. I stipulated that in my first post. But that doesn't mean gender prejudices weren't rampant.
You're right in that Tolkien doesn't depict realistic social forces. No where did I say that authors have to depict realistic social forces. Tolkien and Martin are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to this. It's just that there's nothing wrong with them deciding to so for the sake of realism, authenticity, or drama.
Edited by Marcus Cicero, 25 April 2012 - 02:33 PM.